LED Lamp Color Temperatures
By Raymond Josephian
I have been designing landscape lighting systems since the early eighties, and nothing has excited me more than the advent of high-quality LED lamps. Even more exciting is the different color temperatures available in Illumicare’s MR16 LED lamps.
I remember fondly when the halogen MR16 was first introduced to the landscape lighting industry. Moving up from a 2700 Kelvin (K) incandescent lamp to a 3000K halogen, we were finally able to show the true colors of the plant materials – halogen light sources typically have a high CRI (Color Rendering Index), which we will discuss in the future.
The halogen bulb was a great improvement, but somewhere along the line, we started over-using them. It wasn’t long before most designers and contractors found themselves using 3000K halogen lamps for every application.
How interesting would a Monet painting be if he used only one color on his canvas?
Frustrated with the outcome, we then tried mixing halogen bulbs with incandescent bulbs within our designs just to allow the eye to see variations within the light field. Some contractors tried using colored lenses while others tried mercury vapor, but as we all know, the spilled light of these options had to be controlled or the result would be unappealing.
It was earlier this year that I made full use of Illumicare Group’s LED MR16 lamps in my lighting designs. The variation in colors and beam spreads opened my eyes to new lighting design possibilities. Illumicare offers LED MR16s in 2700K, 3000K, 4000K and 5500K, so you can mix and match by simply dropping lamps into any fixture in your design. If you don’t like the color in a particular area, you can just pop in a different lamp.
I use the 3000K for uplighting in order to highlight the plant material in a landscape. They have the best tone to enhance the true colors of the plants. I use the cooler light of the 4000K lamp to downlight, trying to mimic the 4100K temperature of moonlight. I also use the 4000K lamp to light a blue spruce, which allows the tree’s true colors to pop on any landscape. For seating areas, I use the 2700K lamp to downlight, as the warmer light promotes relaxation.
Below you will find a helpful chart showing color temperatures of different light sources. Color Temperature, or more accurately, Correlated Color Temperature (CCT) is rated on a Kelvin (K) scale, and refers to the hue of a given light source, with the higher color temperatures being considered cool tones, and the lower temperatures being considered warmer.
The beauty of landscape lighting is that if you were to ask ten designers to design a lighting system, you would get ten very different designs. Being able to change color temperatures only enhances your design. Use LEDs to your liking, but make sure you take advantage of the different color temperature available, as they will add a completely new dimension to your designs.
For more information about equivalents and our LED lamps, please contact us.